While we are all about cancer prevention through diet here at Cook For Your LIFE, we know that nutrition is just one small factor that can increase your risk of developing cancer. With the summer in full swing, it is an important time to be sun aware. The sun is a great source of vitamin D, but people who get a lot of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays are at greater risk for skin cancer. Because of this, the American Cancer Society recommend that you get vitamin D from your diet or vitamin supplements rather than from the sun, as dietary sources and vitamin supplements do not increase skin cancer risk,
- Stick to the shade- It’s obvious, but the easiest way to stay safe is by taking shelter in the shade. If you are not sure if there will be shade, bring an umbrella or canopy with you to make sure you avoid those harmful rays. This is especially important during the times of the day where the sun’s rays are strongest, between 10am and 4pm.
- Clothing counts- wearing a wide brim had and t-shirt will help to stop damage, but it’s very dependent on the clothing. The thicker the material the better- if you can see through it, it means the sun’s rays can get through. A wide brimmed hat is also great to keep the rays from damaging your face and scalp, which can often be forgotten about. If possible, try to get clothing with a UPF rating. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, and lets you know what fraction of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can get through the fabric. For example, a top with a UPF of 50 allows 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation to reach the skin.
- Factor up- make sure you are wearing a sunscreen which has a high range of protection from UVA and UVB rays, and remember that the suns ray’s can still cause damage on cooler or cloudy days. Research has shown regular daily use of SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces risk of certain types of skin cancer by 50%, so make sun protection part of your daily routine.
- Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside, to allow it time to sink in. Reply your sunscreen often- at least every 2 hours, and more if you are sweating or have been in water. Try to use a water-resistant sunscreen if you are swimming, as it is still possible to get burned even if you are in the water.
- Don’t forget your eyes- wearing sunglasses with proper UV protection is so much more than a fashion statement.
- Do regular skin checks to monitor moles. Skin cancer is often treatable when caught early, so make sure you keep and eye on things and visit your physician if you notice anything unusual.
We hope these tips help you to enjoy the summer. For more advice visit the American Cancer Society or the Skin Cancer Foundation websites.